While St Denis 2007 concedes Aboriginal peoples are not and have never been a

While st denis 2007 concedes aboriginal peoples are

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While St. Denis (2007) concedes Aboriginal peoples are not and have never been a homogenous population, Aboriginal peoples do share “a common experience with colonization and racialization” (p. 1087). The concept of racialization “brings attention to how race has been used and is continually used to justify inequality and oppression of Aboriginal peoples” (p. 1071). In the Canadian Prairies, “First Nations and Métis peo- ples…are socially, politically, and historically positioned as ‘other’ to the descendants of white settlers who migrated to this area in large numbers in the early years of the twen- tieth century” (Schick, 2014, p. 89). Through the stigmatization of Aboriginal peoples, white identity is defined and secured. Present-day inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is indicative of ongoing colonial relations; colonial systems force Aboriginal peoples to negotiate barriers on all levels for health care, education, housing, employment, food supply, clean water, and within the justice system. Anti-Aboriginal racism on the Canadian Prairies—“the legitimating ideology of colonialism” (Green, 2011, p. 239)—is rampant, and is a daily reality for Aboriginal peoples (Gilmore, 2015; McDougall, 2016). As cited by one Aboriginal teacher, “in Saskatchewan there’s nothing lower than being an Indian or looking like an Indian, whether or not you’re Métis, you’re Indian, it doesn’t matter” (St. Denis, 2007, p. 1081). In their encounters with non-Ab- original society, Aboriginal youth “deal with low expectations, and incidents of outright racism” (Castellano, 2008, p. 8). Despite the problem of racism in the Canadian Prairies 4 , educational approaches have long focused on cultural awareness solutions, as opposed to anti-racist approaches, for improving the educational experiences and outcomes of Ab- original students (Schick, 2009; St. Denis, 2004, 2007, 2011b). 4 On August 9, 2016, in rural Saskatchewan, a white farmer named Gerald Stanley shot and killed 22-year-old Colten Boushie, an Aboriginal man. While events leading to the shooting were and remain unclear, a slew of racist and derogatory comments supporting Stanley followed the shooting. See brad-wall-trent-wotherspoon-call-for-end-of-racist-sask-comments-1.3720774
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Reconciliation or Racialization? 8 Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de l’éducation 40:1 (2017) Theoretical Framework This study takes up the debates offered by critical race theory (e.g., Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Delgado & Stefancic, 2012) and thus begins by questioning the significance of race in education, and foregrounding racism as an explanation for the long-standing low achievement levels of Aboriginal students. Critical race theory is a marginal lens for looking at Aboriginal education, and the predominant discourse is a cultural approach: “The assumption is that the integration of Aboriginal cultural socialization processes… will create links between the home and school cultures and motivate Aboriginal stu- dents to learn in school” (Kanu, 2011, p. 5). This study follows the work of scholars who
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